A giant meatball made of cultured meat using DNA from an extinct mammoth was unveiled Tuesday at Nemo, a science museum in the Netherlands.
The meatball was created by Australian cultured meat company Vow, which has indicated it was not an April Fool’s Day joke and said it wants more public discussion of cultured meat, calling it a a more sustainable alternative to real meat.
“We wanted to create something that was totally different from anything you can get now,” he told Reuters Vow founder Tim Noakesmith, adding that another reason for choosing the mammoth is that scientists believe the animal’s extinction was caused by climate change.
The meatball was made with sheep cells inserted with a unique mammoth gene called myoglobin. “When it comes to meat, myoglobin is responsible for aroma, color and flavor,” explained James Ryall, Vow’s chief scientific officer.
Since the mammoth DNA sequence obtained by Vow had some gaps, DNA from an African elephant was inserted to complete it. “It’s the same as what is done in the movie Jurassic Park”Ryall said, emphasizing that the main difference is that they weren’t creating real animals.
While creating cultured meat typically involves using blood from a dead calf, Vow employed an alternative, meaning that no animals were killed in the making of the mammoth meatball.
The meatball, which has the aroma of crocodile meat, is currently it is not available for consumption.
“Their protein is literally 4,000 years old. We haven’t seen her in a long time. That means we want to put it through rigorous testing, which we would do with any product we bring to market,” Noakesmith said.
Vow hopes to put farmed meat on the map in the European Union, a market where the product as food is not yet regulated.
By Charlotte Van Campenhout and Piroschka Van der Wouw (Reuters)
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